Information Technology

Job snapshot

SALARY average:

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USD $48,000 GBP £24,000 cad $49,000 AUD $58,000

fixed or variable remuneration: Fixed salary

number of open jobs: 817,046+ jobs on ziprecruiter

PEOPLE INTERACTION: HiGH - INTERNAL STAFF AND EXTERNAL CLIENTS

The Role

What an In-House IT Professional Does

The impact technology has on businesses today is growing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Even small businesses with basic computer networks require assistance from time to time, while large corporations have massive infrastructure needs to be seen to.

IT professionals support their needs in a myriad of ways, though most fall into one of two categories; hardware and software. At a very basic level, someone who works on the software end may be responsible for password resets and setting up computers for employees. Advanced professionals will focus on building and planning custom applications for their companies. On the hardware end, entry-level candidates may be piecing together systems and network components, though as their advancement continues, they may be planning entire networks or building machines.

Who would enjoy a career in Information Technology?

Naturally, the field is an excellent choice for those who embrace technology as well as those who are adept with computers, electronics, and mathematics. While all careers in the field require an analytical mindset and critical thinking, a great many are also ideal for creative and imaginative people as well. Although IT careers do require long hours of deskwork, they are better suited to team players and good communicators, as work is typically shared or requires collaboration.

Who mightn't like the career?

Even though IT careers typically pay well, it’s not necessarily easy money. Those who earn more are typically self-starters who have picked up additional skills and certifications. Because of this, the field isn’t ideal for someone who isn’t prepared to apply him or herself to lifelong learning. It’s also worth noting that the field is quite diverse. Especially at the early stages, schedules can be less than ideal and travel may be required. For this reason, the career may not be a good fit for those who do not have some flexibility. Lastly, this is a desk job which can sometimes feel monotonous for those who don’t genuinely enjoy the work and it can also be stressful, which means it’s not ideal for those who haven’t personally explored the field and know what they’re getting into.

 

GETTING IN

Qualifications

Historically, anyone could break into IT, so long as the individual had some degree of knowledge of computers. Some positions are still available for those who are self-taught, but most employers are now looking for certifications and degrees to start.

Ergo, an individual aiming for an entry-level tech support job may be hired on with only basic computer skills and customer service skills, but chances are, the employer will prefer a four-year degree in computer science or computer information systems or certifications like Microsoft, Cisco, Sec+, Net+, and A+.

As the career progresses, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are typically required in areas like computer engineering or business administration. Because the field is so diverse, it’s important for those who plan to enter the field to explore several potential paths and choose a degree which offers flexibility in job placement later.

Interviewing

With entry-level positions like tech support, employers will look for those with good customer service skills, a basic understanding of the product being supported, and the ability to research and troubleshoot issues. Moving into more advanced positions, interviews often include real-world problems the candidate must solve and a myriad of technical questions.

Moving into Information Technology from another career

Almost anyone can transition into an entry-level IT position, regardless of his or her degree or background, as basic tech support jobs tend to focus more on customer service and resourcefulness. Those aiming a bit higher who do not have a computer-related degree will become more attractive to employers by obtaining certifications related to the role first.

 
relevant skillshare courses
 
CAREER PATH

Because IT is a wide umbrella, there are many potential paths one can follow. Furthermore, progression is not necessarily linear. For example, even though there are junior and senior developer roles, an experienced developer may move into database administration or programming later, rather than become a senior developer. Transitions into development from other roles occur too. After 8-10 years in the field, many people may become managers, architects, or analysts. After this point, IT professionals are more likely to move fluidly between those three categories than move higher on the company ladder.

Entry-Level

Role: Technical support is one of the few roles individuals can get without having formal training, though certifications are usually preferred. In these roles, the professionals usually take calls, research problems, and either correct them for the person or walk the person through the fix.

Hours: 40 per week

Junior Roles: 1-3 Years of Experience

Role: Those with degrees or their relative equivalent in experience or certifications typically qualify for junior roles. These include: Technical Support (level 2), Analyst, Project Coordinator, Network Admin, Systems Admin, Programmer, Developer, Database Admin, and similar.

Hours: 40 per week

Experienced Roles: 3-5 Years of Experience

Role: After about three years on the job, junior-level employees typically qualify to move up. They may take positions such as Technical Support (level 3), Analyst, Network Admin, Systems Admin, Programmer, Developer, Database Admin, and similar.

Hours: 40-50 per week

Senior Roles: 5-8 Years of Experience

Role: To move into senior roles, employers usually expect additional certifications and a minimum of five years of experience. Some senior roles to transition to include Analyst, Project Manager, Network Admin, Systems Admin, Programmer, Developer, Database Admin, and similar.

Hours: 40-50 per week

Advanced Technical Roles 8+ Years of Experience

Role: Senior-level IT professionals will usually either transition into a management role or an architect role. It’s common for an architect to move into another architect role or analyst role after working as an architect for some time. Analysts may also move between the various analyst roles and back to an architect role as well. In other words, at this point, there is a fair amount of linear transfers happening between the groups rather than corporate ladder climbing. A few titles in these areas include Network Architect, Systems Architect, Application Architect, Infrastructure Architect, Database Architect, Network Security Analyst, Systems Security Analyst, Source Code Security Analyst, Systems Security Analyst, Database Security Analyst, and similar.

Hours: 40-50 per week

Management Roles: 5+ Years

Role: Naturally, managers oversee the IT department or components of it. For example, someone working his or her way up through a Technical Support career may become a Technical Support Manager, while a Project Coordinator may become an Assistant Project Manager and then a Project Manager. These roles usually require a business degree or business knowledge in addition to technical knowledge.

Hours: 40-50 per week

Vice President and Above

Role: Those following the corporate track may move from management into a VP or Director role, and perhaps ultimately ascend to a C-Suite role such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Hours: 40-50 per week

Travel Opportunities

Travel requirements vary based upon the role and the company. In some cases, no travel is required at all. However, other positions could require total relocation, several weeks of travel per year, or occasional travel. Destinations will generally be locations in which the company operates or has data centers.

 
SALARY AND BONUSES

Salary

IT Support Specialists: According to PayScale, IT Support Specialists earn an average of USD$48,000 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £24,000, whereas salaries are CAD$49,000 and AU$58,000 in Canada and Australia, respectively.

Analyst: USD$69,791, £33,890, CAD$68,115, AU$79,176

Project Coordinator: USD$54,751, £24,724, CAD$51,054, AU$67,134

Network Admin: USD$56,648, £21,512, CAD$54,609, AU$63,304

Network Architect: USD$69,791, £33,890, CAD$68,115, AU$79,176

Network Security Analyst: USD$65,986, £31,846, CAD$61,964 (AU not available)

Systems Admin: USD$60,783, £25,418, CAD$58,474, AU$68,209

Systems Architect: USD$108,074, £51,117, CAD$94,963, AU$120,683

Systems Security Analyst: (No Salaries Available)

Programmer: USD$75,808, £32,625, CAD$63,315, AU$70,243

Application Architect: USD$109,536, £58,958, CAD$96,629, AU$130,488

Source Code Security Analyst: (No Salaries Available)

Developer: USD$75,808, £32,625, CAD$63,315, AU$70,243

Infrastructure Architect: (No Salaries Available)

Systems Security Analyst: (No Salaries Available)

Database Admin: USD$71,775, £30,050, CAD$65,915, AU$72,477

Database Architect: (No Salaries Available)

Database Security Analyst: (No Salaries Available)

Manager: USD$85,676, £38,801, CAD$82,922, AU$101,504

Director: USD$115,975, £77,911, CAD$111,563, AU$163,932

VP of IT: USD $148,312, £79,875, CAD$138,794, AU$170,000

Bonuses

Even those in entry-level positions typically earn several thousand per year in bonuses, profit sharing, and commission. The amount is amplified with experience, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands or more.

 

LEAVING THE CAREER

Why an in-house IT Professional moves on

Overall, the IT field provides many things other careers cannot touch, like comfortable salaries and the opportunity to travel for work and pleasure. When people tire of their jobs, they don’t usually leave the field. Instead, they move to another role or company. However, the field can feel isolating, particularly since most of the day is spent dealing with systems and not people. Furthermore, keeping systems running smoothly is essential for the businesses. Work may grind to a halt when they don’t. This, paired with limits set by the company for cost and downtime, can make the career stressful. That said, there are many opportunities for those leaving a career in IT. A particular favorite among those who quit is to pursue creative passions, such as travel, writing, photography, and sports.

Further Reading:

 

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